I needed a few days to reflect and collect all my thoughts regarding The Rise of Skywalker (TROS). It is a movie, you need to see more than once or twice to process it thoroughly, and sadly, I can summarize by saying that although it is not bad, it is definitely not good.
I still blame The Last Jedi (TLJ) for this mess of a movie, and the current emotional state of the hardcore Star Wars fandom. All I can say is that the Skywalker dynastic heritage and the messianic legacy of the first six films are wasted away in this new trilogy. The Script for The Rise of Skywalker relies heavily on legends and canon material, which was definitely a good idea, but it is not something the casual fan is familiar with. Which makes certain aspects of the storyline hard to understand, unless you are incredibly familiar with legends and canon material. Throughout most of this movie, there are so many twists and turns thrown at the audience in an overwhelming pace.
There is lousy editing, plot lines skipped, or past over. Darth Sidious, shows up alive right from the beginning of the film with a simple cliff notes explanation of how he is still alive; it felt weak and lazy storytelling. There is this long history of Star Wars villains being thrown down a shaft of some kind and somehow surviving the fall, case in point; Darth Maul. So, why didn’t they start there and explain what happened when Vader threw him down the shaft on episode V?. Maybe he opened a portal into a new realm or something along those lines.
Right from the opening text scroll, The Rise of Skywalker distances itself from The Last Jedi as much as possible. “The past must die” was essentially the central message of The Last Jedi, but the past is pretty much alive here, completely ignoring the entire premise of The Last Jedi, which was a F*&% You to Rian Johnson.
The parts I liked the most:
- They did the best they could with Leia without relying too much on CGI.
- Rose Tico not being in the movie long was a good thing. Her character annoyed the hell out of me.
- Lightspeed skipping was pretty awesome.
- Kylo putting his mask back together was necessary, and another significant F*&% You to Rian Johnson.
- Lando returning was a good idea, but he should have been back earlier. Once word got around on Han’s death, that is where Lando should have made his return to the series, so basically, he should have returned on The Last Jedi.
- Flying Stormtroopers was a good thing.
- General Hux being the spy and getting killed off, was the only way out for Hux, who had been reduced to an inconsequential and buffoon-like villain in The Last Jedi.
- General Pryde was a great addition, and there seems to be a backstory between Pryde and Palpatine — maybe the novelization of the movie will explain further.
- The story of the former Stormtroopers putting down their weapons as an act of defiance against tyranny was a great inclusion to the story.
- Zorii Bliss seemed like a cool character but her backstory and past history with Poe did not advance forward and we are still in the dark about their relationship.
- Epic lightsaber battle on top of the wreckage of the second death star. My favorite lightsaber battle of this trilogy.
- Leia’s death was well executed. She dies holding Han’s medal. Very touching.
- Chewie’s emotional moment when he finds out Leia is dead was powerful.
- Han solo showing up and having an emotional conversation with Ben similar to their conversation on The Force Awakens was very touching.
- For the first time in this entire trilogy, we get to see the Luke Skywalker I wanted to see or a resemblance of the Luke I was hoping for in The Last Jedi. Here we see Luke as a force ghost, and as Rey throws her lightsaber into the fire, a hand catches it, and out of the fire, Luke emerges, saying: “A Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect.” Giving another severe F*&% You to Rian Johnson.
- Here is where Luke begins to undo everything The Last Jedi did by admitting that he was wrong. Then we see an awesome flashback of Luke training Leia, where she outduels him and drops him on his back. Here Luke explains that at the end of Leia’s Jedi path, she sensed the death of her son, which prompts her to surrender her lightsaber to Luke and tells him that it will be picked up by another who will finish her journey. Luke digs out Leia’s lightsaber and gives it to Rey. This was the highlight of the movie for me.
- Luke then raises his old X-wing out of the water in a throwback manner similar to how Yoda raised the same X-wing in Empire Strikes Back. That scene was pure fan service, and I loved it.
- Kylo using Leia’s lightsaber to kill the Knights of Ren, was a cool, badass scene.
- As Rey reaches out while battling Palpatine and hears from every Jedi that ever existed was almost perfect, and we get to hear from Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda, Luke, Leia, Ahsoka Tano, Anakin, Mace Windu. However, what I wanted was to see all those Jedi’s force ghosts appearing behind Rey as she defeats Palpatine. Well, that is how I would have written it.
- Ben Solo using his Force healing powers to bring Rey back to life, followed by an epic kiss, was magical. Ben smiling, redeeming himself, and then dying, while at the same time the bodies of Ben and Leia disintegrate into force ghosts was excellent.
- The shot of Endor and the Ewoks was cool.
- Maz Kanata giving Han’s medal to Chewie was another emotional fan service moment.
- Luke and Leia’s force ghost in Tattoine looking over Rey as she takes the Name Rey Skywalker was a transcendental moment for this trilogy.
- Rey’s yellow lightsaber at the end is very significant. It is associated with an important school of thought within the Jedi order; The Sentinels.
- The twin sun setting was a perfect shot to bring this trilogy to a close.
The Parts I disliked the most:
- It was the right choice to bring Palpatine back, but his return should have been explained differently, worked slowly into the story. Palpatine’s contingency plan is part of the canon. There was a plan in place if somehow the rebel alliance were to succeed in defeating the empire. The canon and legends talk about Palpatine’s search for immortality, and his obsession with the unknown regions, his obsession with cloning, his obsession with essence transfer, and cloning himself. Cloning a force sensitive being is complicated and not a simple thing to accomplish. Also, let us remember his dark side pitch to Anakin about Darth Plagueis on Revenge of the Sith — so the pursuit of immortality has always been crucial to Palpatine’s plans. Also, the plothole of Palpatine’s family is abysmal. In Rian Johnson’s movie, Rey was a nobody. In The Rise of Skywalker she is a Palpatine. I am fine with this, but the explanation of her parents and Palpatine’s family is weak.
- Palpatine used to have some of the best dialogue of the entire prequel sequels. Here, his dialogue is unremarkable.
- Snoke was a clone?. He was terrifying, intimidating, and now he is just reduced to a joke of a villain. JJ Abrams set up Snoke as the main villain, then Rian Johnson comes along and dumps on this villain and all the characters that Abrams created in The Force Awakens. This whole clone thing seemed like an easy way out of the Snoke storyline.
- The Knights of Ren did not get enough screentime to establish their backstory, or even care remotely about them.
- Jedi hunter’s storyline and the importance of his ship needed to be better explained. The dagger with Sith writing storyline, which C-3PO cannot translate because it is against his programming, was time-consuming and pointless.
- Adam driver’s performance is the best part and the main driving force of all three sequel trilogy films. Kylo is the one true constant. When he dies at the same time as his mother, and then Rey resurrecting him with her healing powers was pretty neat. However, healing powers are something straight out of Star Wars lore, you read about them in the books and comics, and they are not explained in any of the movies. So then, the casual fan has no idea how she acquires this power. We, the audience, have no idea who trained her on how to use this technique. All of a sudden, she just knows it, and the audience is supposed to go along with it like dumb monkeys.
- The suggestion that Finn is force sensitive was a big stretch, and a bad idea.
- Horses running on Star Destroyers were not a good idea.
- Grandpa Palpatine’s plan to transfer his power/essence to Rey is convoluted.
- In the final battle between Palpatine and Rey: when she is holding back Sith lightning, Palpatine tells her, “I am all the Sith that ever lived.” Then Rey pulls Luke’s lightsaber and says, “I am all the Jedi” while pushing Sith lightning back into Palpatine until his own Sith lightning its turned back into him (similar to how Mace Windu turned Sith lightning back into him on Revenge of the Sith). All of that was cool, but Palpatine melting down and blowing up, and presumably dead (for now…), was too fast, I wanted to see this iconic villain being defeated in more unambiguous way.
- The cryptic scene between Lando and Jannah, asking where she is from, and Lando saying, “let’s find out.” You cannot just leave it like that.
- My other big issue is that we never got to see Anakin appear as a force ghost in any of the sequel movies. We were robbed as fans. We only got Yoda. No Obi Wan Kenobi, no Anakin. What a disgrace!!
The future of the Force:
On a technical level, movies like The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and The Rise of Skywalker are excellent, but it is clear that Star Wars is no longer pushing cinema and sci-fi to the next level as it once did.
This sequel trilogy serves as a perfect example of the importance of having a clearly defined outline before any hiring decisions are made. The outline of the story should have been agreed upon before hiring screenwriters, directors, and even before casting the movie. Especially, if you are making a trilogy, you should have a clear idea where the story is going and what the character arcs should be, and it is clear that this was not the case with this sequel trilogy. Lawrence Kasdan wrote Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, the Force Awakens, and Solo, so why couldn’t he write The Rise of Skywalker? Or at least have him involved somehow. Maybe Kasdan would have contributed to a more commonsensical storyline.
The Force Awakens was one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences in my recent memory. I remember leaving the theatre happy and excited about the future of Star Wars. Then, fast forward a couple of years ahead, and I remember how confused I felt leaving the theatre after watching The Last Jedi. I was baffled, perplexed, taken aback. It left such a bad taste in my mouth that I immediately began revisiting some of my old Star Wars books. The ones no longer considered canon, and have been labeled as “legends,” like Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy and even Dark Lord by James Luceno, just to cleanse my palate.
There was magic at the end of The Force Awakens—when Rey is holding Luke’s Lightsaber as Luke is just staring at her. It was the whole idea of Luke returning as the lead character in the upcoming movies. Luke returning as a Jedi master, seeing him display some of his Jedi powers one last time, maybe engage in one final lightsaber battle, not some hologram version of himself as we saw on The Last Jedi. And then, at some point, Luke would pass on the baton to another, maybe Rey or another character, who knows. All of that was pissed away on The Last Jedi. This is a clear example of why you need to have specific outlines for all the movies and characters already set up and agreed upon before any hiring decisions are made. In case another director or screenwriter takes over, the outlines are clearly stated and followed, with very little room to tweak things up.
Luke remains at the very center of the Star Wars fandom, and all those adventures and missions in between the years of Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens are a goldmine for future Disney+ TV shows. If Disney wants tor redeemed themselves with the hardcore fan base, then focusing on Luke and the Skywalker bloodline is where the future of Star Wars should be. The same thing should occur with Vader and all those years in between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. They are all just sci-fi space adventure movies, simple as that. Jon Favreau and his Mandalorian series arrived precisely at the right time. In this show, we can see and sense the respect and affection Favreau and his team have for Star Wars, which is not what the people involved in the sequel trilogy conveyed, most notably in The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. The sooner we put this sequel trilogy behind us and bring onboard TRUE Star Wars fanatics into upcoming projects, the better chance Disney has to salvage whatever is left of the fan base.
Three out of Five Popcorn Bags 🍿🍿🍿